Red-letter day

Twins Spring Training

The game ends with Cali in the bullpen, so he does not make an appearance against his old club. Bummer.

But J.D. Durbin, a strong-armed righty, looked good in the ninth, closing out Minnesota's fourth straight win. He seems back on track after missing most of last season with an injury.

The Twins hit the road tomorrow to play the Yankees in Tampa. It's their second trip there this spring.


W: Reyes (1-0), L: Rincon (0-1), S: Durbin (1).

3B: Kennedy, STL (1), 2B: Cuddyer, MINN (5), White, MINN (1), Eckstein, STL (1), Ankiel, STL (2).


The announced crowd is 8,134, a record for Twins spring training. The previous mark was set March 13, 2000, with 8,091 showing up for that one.

Tons of Cardinals red. Like Red Sox Nation, the St. Louis folks are nuts about their team.

Blake Hawksworth now pitching for St. Louis. He gave up two runs in the fourth, but left two on. Kip Wells, the St. Louis starter, went the first three innings.

Meanwhile, the Cardinals pick up two in the bottom of the fourth. The big hit is by Adam Kennedy, who drives in a run with his RBI triple to right.



Rick Ankiel just popped out to first. Yes, that Rick Ankiel.

The former Cardinals pitcher has been trying to remake himself as an outfielder. He entered in the bottom of the third inning to replace the injured Ryan Ludwick in left.

Santana is done. His final line reads like this: 4 IP, 2 H, 4 K, 2 BB.

Fourth Inning

STL: Pujols BB, Spiezio 1B7, Bozied F7, Ankiel P3, Molina F8; MINN: Cuddyer 1B7 (5-2-5), Morneau 1B9 (R), Hunter FC5 (R), White 4-3 (RBI), Cirillo (BB), Casilla BB, Casilla 1B8 (RBI), Castillo 4-3.


Some trouble for Santana in the third. Thanks in large part to Florida native David Eckstein's double to left, the Cardinals put runners at second and third. But no one scores.

Third Inning

STL: Molina BB, Taguchi P6, Kennedy F7, Eckstein 2B7, Duncan K; MINN: Cirillo F7, Casilla K, Castillo 1B9, Punto BB, Mauer 3-1.


Interesting sequence in the top of the second. Cardinals right fielder Tag Bozied, the second batter of the inning, tagged Santana for what looked to be a solo homer.

But it went foul.

Santana watches the ball leave the yard, then steps back on the rubber. He adjusts his cap. He licks his fingers. Three pitches later, he made Bozied look silly on a nasty changeup for strike three.

Second Inning

STL: Speizio F7, Bozied K, Ludwick F7; MINN: Morneau 4-3, Hunter F8, White K.


Forgot to mention it earlier, but this is Santana's 28th birthday. With the longevity we now see from pitchers, he's still a young player.

Anyway, the lefty set them down 1-2-3 in the first. That included a groundout he induced by Pujols, the end of a killer matchup featuring two of the game's brightest stars.

First Inning

STL: Eckstein F7, Duncan K, Pujols 5-3U; MINN: Castillo K, Punto 6-3, Mauer 1B8/6U, Cuddyer FC6.


Lineups are in. We'll get to see "the great Pujols," as he was referred to throughout "Three Nights in August," the Buzz Bissinger book. Albert bats third and plays first.

Also, Carmen Cali, the Naples High grad, will be in the bullpen today. You can never say for sure that someone will pitch, but he is listed as one of the backups for Santana.

If Cali does get in, there's a pretty good story line. The Cardinals are the organization he represented for seven years, before being relased by St. Louis last fall.

In other matters, I have completed my bracket. My Final Four looks like this: Florida, Kansas, Georgetown and A/M, with the Gators beating the Hoyas for the title.

That's two 1s (Florida and Kansas), a 2 (Georgetown) and a 3 (A/M). I can almost promise you there will be a 4, 5 or 6 in there somewhere, but I've been burned too many times trying to guess who.

The lineups ...

ST. LOUIS: SS Eckstein, DH Duncan, 1B Pujols, 3B Spiezio, RF Bozied, LF Ryan Ludwick, C Molina, CF Taguchi, 2B Kennedy, RHP Wells.

MINNESOTA: 2B Castillo, 3B Punto, C Mauer, RF Cuddyer, 1B Morneau, CF Hunter, LF White, DH Cirillo, SS Casilla, LHP Santana.


The Twins are having their annual players' union meeting this morning, so the clubhouse is closed for a couple of hours. Seems I picked the wrong day to get here so early.

Then again, the NCAA basketball tournament starts Thursday, and I still haven't filled out a bracket. This will be the perfect time for that.

Every year, it's hard to imagine anyone knocking off the top seeds. But it happens every season. In fact, last year's Final Four consisted of a 2, a 3, a 4 and an 11.

I'm jumping in a pool this year with some Minnesota folks. That way, when I pick Florida to repeat, I won't have to worry about the zillion locals who make the same prediction. No matter which part of the country you live in, you're never going to gain much by picking the local favorite.

Anyway, we're about three hours from the national anthem. Santana is pitching today against the champs, and of course, it is sunny and beautiful. Should be fun.

Come see me later for lineups. Until then, I'm going to get busy with my bracket.


Roster moves ...

The Twins are now down to 49 players. That's because pitchers Errol Simonitsch and Jose Mijares have been optioned to Triple-A Rochester and Double-A New Britain, respectively.

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